This debut collection by Rayanne Haines is a creative threading of perspectives and memories about the fictional life of Isabella Caro, by three women who are fictional and yet remarkably real.
Isabella Caro, born in Florence at the de-occupation of Italy in WW2 is a woman shaped by the resilience of her country and a thirst for knowledge.
In this fictional Novel-in-Verse we take a journey through one woman’s life, told from the perspective of three characters: Isabella, her daughter Alina and her granddaughter Georgia. Three voices weave through a lifetime in and out of harmony as they tell us a story of innocence, feminism, intellect, motherhood, immigration, understanding and loss. Ancient mythology is weaved through the poems and the character’s voices ring with the echoes of the maiden, the mother and the crone.
This is the story of a feminist and scholar and the story of mothers and daughters that takes us from 1944 Italy to the the Prairies in 2014. We meet Isabella as a child and follow her story as she marries, suffers from postpartum depression, immigrates to Canada, struggles to connect with her teen daughter, takes on the care of her grandchild and finds peace in old love. In poems both blunt and confessional a woman’s story is revealed, page by page.
“In Stained With the Colours of Sunday Morning, Rayanne Haines brings us an emotional, intense love story in verse that sweeps us up for the sort of journey usually found in sprawling historical novels, deftly captured in brief, vivid poems. We begin bold with promise, as in Wedding Vow: “Say it is always you and I, hands clasped against/ those who would burn us down,/ and I am yours, forever.” In these poems, Haines sketches truths which turn out to be the enduring truths, that “to love so deeply is learned,” and she writes with a robust love for life and living, so that we believe in depths beneath the moment. Thanks to Haines’ skill at letting them speak plainly of their strengths and weaknesses, joy and grief, we swiftly feel like we know the women in these poems, and that through them, we can remember that everyone we meet is living an epic personal journey. Finally, she gives us a man, made complicit by love, whose own complexities shimmer below the surface of his few statements: “To my woman/ even shadows bend their knee.” This book is as tasty as a loaf of home made, braided bread, and as easy to devour in one sitting.”
—Anna Marie Sewell, Edmonton Poet Laureate 2011-13
“Rayanne Haines creates a braid of voices that is moving, vivid and sensual–a lovely synthesis of lyric and narrative.”
—Alice Major, first poet laureate of Edmonton, and Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Award recipient
“As the reader meanders through the lives and times of three generationally interconnected women of Italian origin, Stained With the Colours of Sunday Morning reads like an orated walk through a gallery of richly detailed portraits exposing blood connectedness to, and disconnect from mother/land. The images of three women: Isabella, Alina and Georgia sing lush, strong and sensual, and at times weep, broken, hurt and fragmented. One feels compelled to visit and revisit the characters, to immerse in the complexity of women’s relationships to (or journey to) selfhood, as each moves into her own as she must; loves, births, accomplishes and attempts to breach the gaps that cleave.”
—Pierrette Requier, poet, playwright, performer, producer, mentor, and arts activist, and Edmonton’s Sixth Poet Laureate
“Through her sublimely distilled poems, Haines fuses together four evocative voices of one immigrant family in a tale that is steeped in love and heartache, independence and wisdom. Her poems “whisper stories, passed from daughter to daughter” that honour family history, atonement, human frailty, and above all, a fierce loyalty to each other and to their right to be themselves. “It is a daunting thing / looking at a lifetime / of almosts / admitting / the darkness you lived / in was only a brief shadow” but Haines deftly weaves the beauty, the pain, and the nuances of distinct perspectives in a series of brilliant poems that tell the story of family, immigration, love and loss.”
— Dymphny Dronyk, author of Contrary Infatuations, and past-president of the League of Canadian Poets